Viagra was the first class of drugs known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. Hitting the market in 1998, Viagra forever changed the face of men’s sexual health. For the first time, we had a pharmacological treatment for what was once known as impotence. Since then, other incarnations have been created and more still are about to hit the market, such as a topical variety, in years to come. Also, generic versions of Viagra will be out next year, as its parent company Pfizer, loses its patent on the drug. Since their entrance into society, we’ve learned a lot about PDE5 inhibitors. They’re effective with 70% of patients. They are usually well-tolerated. Those taking alpha-blockers should avoid them. One question some had was whether or not there was a link between ED drugs and melanoma. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, finds no significant correlation.
The FDA put PDE5 inhibitors on a watch list, included with medications which may increase the risk of the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma. Researchers sprang into action, to see if there really was a relationship. They conducted five large studies running 2014-2016. 866,049 male patients were included. They did find that those who took such drugs were at 12% higher risk for melanoma. However, it was only stage zero melanoma. This is when the cancer grows only to the uppermost layer of the skin. It stays there and does not spread. This is easily treatable and it isn’t life-threatening. Men in these studies took a large amount of the drug over a long period of time. They each had 100 pills over the course of the study. None developed melanoma which could be considered dangerous or even life-threatening. One reason for the correlation may be that those on ED drugs tend to see a doctor more often, and so would have a higher chance of catching it. If you have ED, see a doctor or urologist about it.